Oil spill in Nagapattinam coast | CPCL plugs leak in crude oil pipeline

Work underway to plug the leak the CPCL oil pipeline off the Nagapattinam Coast at Pattinamcherry on March 4, 2023 | Video Credit: N. Sai Charan

Fishermen call for permanent removal of the pipelines 

March 04, 2023 09:35 pm | Updated March 06, 2023 06:58 pm IST - NAGAPATTINAM

Workers of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) on Saturday plugged the leak of crude oil from a crack in the underwater pipeline that resulted in an oil spill a few kilometres off the Nagapattinam coast.

The leak occurred in the nine-km long pipeline used to carry crude from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation ’s Narimanam oil wells to the CPCL’s, now defunct, second refinery at Nagapattinam. An official from the CPCL said the crack in the pipeline observed on Thursday night was plugged in the early hours of Saturday.

However, later in the day, another minor leak was detected and was plugged. “Since the waves were strong, we decided to form a bund using sandbags to work around the pipeline. There is no pumping currently and the residual oil has been already sucked out,” the official said.

A statement from CPCL in Chennai said the leak in the 20-inch dia pipeline was detected on Thursday. Oil dispersants had been deployed to clear the oil and a recovery system was deployed to clear the area in totality. This activity will be continued till the area is clear of hydrocarbons. The pipeline will also be flushed to make it free of hydrocarbons.

Workers creating a bund as a part of the work to plug the leak the CPCL oil pipeline off the Nagapattinam Coast at Pattinamcherry on March 4, 2023

Workers creating a bund as a part of the work to plug the leak the CPCL oil pipeline off the Nagapattinam Coast at Pattinamcherry on March 4, 2023 | Photo Credit: N. Sai Charan

The reason for the leak is being investigated, and meanwhile, officials from CPCL, with support from Indian Oil and the Nagapattinam district administration are working round the clock to complete the job expeditiously. 

A statement from CPCL in Chennai said oil dispersants had been deployed to clear the oil and a recovery system was deployed to clear the area in totality. This activity will be continued till the area is clear of hydrocarbons. Pipeline will also be flushed to make it free of hydrocarbons.

The reason for the leak is being investigation, and meanwhile, officials from CPCL, with support from Indian Oil and the Nagapattinam district administration are working round the clock to complete the job expeditiously.

Fishermen protest

Meanwhile, fishermen from Nagapattinam taluk villages, including Pattinamcherry, Samanathampettai, Nambiyar Nagar, Ariyanatutheru, Keechankuppam, Akkaraipettai, and Kallar, staged a demonstration demanding the permanent removal of the pipeline. They also threatened to go on an indefinite strike if their demand was not met.

Iyyappan, a fisherman from Pattinamcherry, alleged that many of them suffered eye irritation and breathing problems because of the oil spill. It also posed a threat to marine life, he said. More than 200 police personnel were deployed in Pattinamcherry. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Thanjavur range, T. Jayachandran inspected the spot.

Nagapattinam MLA J. Mohammed Shanavas and former Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayabal held talks with the protesters. Mr. Shanavas told The Hindu that the State government should explore the possibility of implementing the project in an alternative way by removing the two-decade-old pipelines from the village based on the fishermen’s demand.

When contacted, Collector A. Arun Thamburaj said Revenue Department officials were coordinating with CPCL officials and monitoring the situation. He has been informed by the CPCL that the leak would be completely plugged at the earliest, he added.

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